Drama; Look back in anger by John Osborne and past questions; This play is necessary for students who are sitting for the following examinations and should be studied so as to stand a chance of passing the exams. JAMB, WAEC, NECO, GCE.
Plot summary (Drama; Look back in anger by John Osborne and past questions.)
Alison, Jimmy, and Cliff are shown in the living room of their Midlands apartment in the opening scene. While Alison irons by the kitchen, Jimmy and Cliff are reading newspapers on recliners. Jimmy begins to gripe about the paper, and soon he is launching into an aggressive rant towards the other two. Jimmy is frequently thus irrational in their home, so when Alison and Cliff respond, they do so exhaustedly. The ironing board is knocked over during the escalating conflict. Alison is burned as the iron strikes her, and she orders Jimmy to leave her sight.
Alison reveals that she is pregnant to Cliff while he attends to her burn. She admits that she hasn’t told Jimmy about it yet, and he urges her to do so. After giving each other a tender kiss, Jimmy enters the room and remarks indifferently that they are making a fool of themselves.
Alison begins to inform Jimmy about the pregnancy after Cliff has left, but a phone call cuts them off. They need to accommodate Alison’s friend Helena for a few days while she works close by at the neighboring train station. Jimmy complains to Cliff about how much he despises Helena. In their argument, he says to Alison that he wishes something horrible would happen to her so she would have to mature a little. As an illustration, he offers the possibility that she might conceive and the child might pass away. Angered, Alison is unable to comment on this.
After two weeks, Helena is still residing in the apartment. One evening, as she and Alison were preparing supper, the two women began to gripe about Jimmy. Helena then inquired about Cliff. She’s noticed how physically friendly he is with Alison, and Alison claims it’s harmless; the two find comfort in each other’s company in a non-sexual way, and the dynamic works for the three of them. She remarks that her relationship with Jimmy’s harsh pal Hugh’s former flatmate, Hugh, is vastly superior.
Helena expresses greater disbelief as they talk about their connection. Helena begs Alison to leave for her own safety as she expresses to her that she has grown to detest it. She asserts that Jimmy’s abuse will only get worse.
Alison and Helena say they’re heading to church after supper as Cliff and Jimmy come in for dinner. This infuriates Jimmy, and a protracted argument follows. Jimmy is adamant that none of the other people have any knowledge of life because they haven’t experienced the kind of loss he has.
After the men leave, Helena tells Alison she has spoken to her father about the status of her marriage. She vows that he will come get her the following day. Alison concurs. Jimmy arrives back before they can depart for church. He’s devastated because Hugh’s mother, who he loves dearly, suffered a stroke. Alison declines his invitation to accompany him as he gets ready to go see her and instead chooses to go church.
The father of Alison, Colonel Redfern, arrives to pick up his daughter the following day when Jimmy is visiting Hugh’s mother. The two discuss Alison’s marriage as she gathers her belongings. She is taken aback to hear her father express sorrow for trying to step in during the young couple’s courtship and hears empathy in his words when he talks about her spouse.
As Cliff approaches to bid Alison go, the two embrace. He agrees to take care of Jimmy for her after she hands him a note for him. Colonel Redfern and Alison depart. Helena can’t join them because she has a commitment the next day.
Cliff and Helena talk about Jimmy’s potential future moves alone. Cliff leaves Helena with the letter because he doesn’t want to be around when Jimmy gets home from work. Jimmy arrives just in time to witness Colonel Redfern’s car leave with Alison in the passenger seat, so when he comes back, he already knows she has departed.
Helena hands him the letter and informs him that Alison is expecting a child as well. Instead of responding, Jimmy rants about how he just spent hours witnessing the death of a loved one. Helena slaps him after he loses his cool. After a little pause, the two start to passionately kiss as the curtain closes.
After some time has passed, Jimmy and Cliff are once more arguing about the newspapers they are reading while lounging in their armchairs. Jimmy’s remark once more turns into profanity directed at the other two as Helena irons close to the kitchen. While Helena is gone, Cliff tells Jimmy that he intends to move out and might look for a partner of his own.
Helena returns as Jimmy begins to rant about women. Cliff thanks her and walks away after receiving the shirt she washed for him. Alison enters the room just as Helena and Jimmy are beginning to make plans to leave and exchange passionate words. Astounded, Jimmy walks away.
The two women converse while expressing regret and respect for one another. Alison apologizes for coming back, but Helena dodges the question, certain that she committed the offense and should be the one to apologize to Alison. When Alison’s miscarriage is made known, Helena tells the woman that she feels Alison’s death was a divine punishment on her and Jimmy’s union. She informs him that she is leaving.
Jimmy walks in and learns for the first time about the miscarriage. He scarcely responds to the news, much to Helena’s horror. She leaves Alison and Jimmy alone as she descends the stairs to pack her belongings. After a brief argument, Alison collapses in tears over the baby she lost. Before embracing, Jimmy lifts her up and the two have a tender and loving conversation.
HAVE YOU USED OUR JAMB TOOL YET? IT PROVIDES YOUR JAMB COMBINATION FOR FREE
THEMES (Drama; Look back in anger by John Osborne and past questions.)
Class and Education Theme
In Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, the connection between Jimmy and Alison Porter illuminates the theme of Class and Education. One might recall that the play was first released in 1956 in post-World War II England. However, before then, the world of British theater had previously been a polite, upper class setting. Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger” shocked many audience members by bringing a fresh angry energy and an unfamiliar point-of-view to the stage.
Through the aforementioned people, the drama creates this new world and class mobility. In the play, Jimmy Porter, who is well-educated and from a working-class family, marries upper-class Alison. However, Jimmy can only operate a sweet stall due to his level of schooling. Although he has left his upbringing behind in some ways, he still doesn’t feel completely at home and hasn’t been accepted into the upper classes.
In the play, Osborne explores the conflict between classes through the connection between Alison and Jimmy. The conflict between them shows how both classes have been unable to coexist.
As they spend time attending high class parties to “plunder” food and drink, Alison feels that Jimmy and his friend Hugh treated her as a “hostage” in the early days of their marriage, according to Helena. Additionally, she claims to her father that Jimmy married her as retaliation against the elite class to which she belongs.
There is no doubt that Jimmy and Alison’s differences are too great to ever truly be reconciled, even after their reconciliation in the conclusion. They can relapse into the pattern of hostility and violence they portray throughout the play.
Themes of Pain and Fury vs. Self-Reliance
Osborne was able to use the idea of suffering and fury in juxtaposition with the complacency that is associated with the upper class by having Jimmy continuously reprimand his wife in the play. According to Jimmy, people from lower social classes who have experienced similar hardships have more perspective on the world than upper class people have. Despite dying, he is shown throughout the play condemning and chastising Alison for her lack of “enthusiasm” and “curiosity.” He implies that Alison’s complacency makes her less real and alive than he is, and that he wants Alison might have a child who would die in her arms so that she could understand how he feels.
No one should take away from him his suffering, he claims, because he would be lost without it. Alison had to acknowledge that he views the pain and rage as a crucial part of his identity.
Finally, Alison goes through the pain Jimmy believes she has been missing out on when she miscarries their child. She thinks that by doing this, she is compelled to feel the fervor of feeling that Jimmy had always hoped she possessed. She sobs and tells him she wants to be “corrupt and pointless.”
Theme of Gender and Muddled Gender Role
Facts have it that many British women had taken on new positions in the workforce during World War II. When the war was over, the majority were expected to return to their traditional family roles, but many continued to work outside the home, creating a divided image of gender. In light of this, Look Back in Anger presents a divided perspective on the dynamic change in gender roles. While much of the action and dialogue is driven by Jimmy’s irrational, destructive, and traditionally masculine energy, women are allowed agency and act independently of men in their own best interests (most notably, both Alison and Helena leave Jimmy).
Furthermore, in the play, femininity is strongly associated with higher classness, whereas masculinity is associated with lower classness. Conflicts between the sexes result from this, and they also have an economic component.
The gender dynamics are further complicated by the way that women are portrayed as possessing a devastating power over men. Jimmy claims that he is glad that there aren’t more female doctors because they would casually put their makeup tools on the table and flip men’s entrails out of their bodies. He also compares Alison’s enthusiasm for sex to a python that consumes its prey whole. He predicts that he and Cliff will both be “butchered by ladies” at the conclusion of the performance.
On the other hand, the play’s theme of ambiguous gender roles contributes to the sense of reality that made it such a sensation when it was initially produced. Social norms are defied by characters. Alison defies her parents’ wishes and marries Jimmy. At the beginning of their relationship, Helena smacks Jimmy, and she later leaves him. Living with a married couple is an unmarried man named Cliff. He makes advances toward Alison, which Jimmy doesn’t mind much. The play’s fluid and changing gender roles are a reflection of the less stable aspects of post-World War II British society, which are being depicted for the first time in the conventionally stuffy and aristocratic medium of theater.
Issue of Alienation and Loneliness
Jimmy Porter, the main character of Look Back in Anger, explores the theme of alienation and loneliness. He developed antisocial tendencies as a result of his environment’s inability to make him fit into the upper class. He runs a sweet shop with his friend Cliff Lewis for a living despite being educated and underemployed. Through his wife Alison, we discovered that he explored various sources of income but was unable to maintain any of them. His ongoing outbursts against his wife can be attributed to his clear disgust with society, which causes him to isolate himself. He claims that he believes that Britain has lost its soul and that the American Age in which they live has left him behind. In conclusion, Jimmy feels cut off from his wife because she comes from an upper-class family. This is demonstrated by the frequent criticism and contempt he shows his wife.
CHARACTERS (Drama; Look back in anger by John Osborne and past questions.)
The principal character and embodiment of the “angry young man” in Osborne’s drama “Look Back in Anger” is Jimmy.
Jimmy, who is thought to be about 25 years old, is characterized as being tall, skinny, and possessing a “disconcerting mixture of honesty and gleeful malice, of tenderness and freebooting brutality.” He regularly spews tirades against the British upper classes’ complacency, particularly towards his wife Alison and later his lover Helena. He is full of contempt and is frequently heard doing so. Like his friend and roommate Cliff, he is a member of the working class but is also highly educated. Despite this, he has an ambivalent relationship with his status as an educated person, seeing himself primarily as a working-class man while also being frustrated that his education cannot change his class status. His ability to “alienate the sensitive and insensitive alike” and his “blistering honesty, or seeming honesty…makes few friends” are other revelations about him. In post-war England, Jimmy, a disgruntled character, complains about his sense of futility and alienation.
Jimmy Porter’s affluent spouse is Alison Porter. For three years, she had been married to Jimmy. She is lured to Jimmy’s vigor but also worn out by their continual quarrel because she is only from the upper-middle class establishment. Jimmy regularly accuses her of being too unenthusiastic and complacent, and even her father, Colonel Redfern, admits that she has a propensity for being overly impartial. She thinks Jimmy married her as retaliation against the system he and his buddies oppose. When her friend Helena telegraphed her parents to come pick her up, Alison, who is represented in the play as being trapped between her upper-class upbringing and the working-class world of her husband, finally escapes. She consents to leaving, as we can see, and later in the play, after she loses their kid to a miscarriage, she goes back to him. She undergoes a transformation as a result of this sorrow, and she grows more devoted to Jimmy’s world of raw feeling.
Cliff, who shares Jimmy’s age but is physically different from him. He is short, black, and large boned, unlike Jimmy. In comparison to Jimmy’s other pals, such as Hugh Tanner, whom Alison despises fiercely, he is more considerate and delicate with her. Although educated and from a working-class background like Jimmy, Cliff Lewis is not as intelligent. He is Jimmy and Alison’s good friend and roommate. He helps the couple stay together by residing with them. By the end of the play, Cliff has made up his mind to leave Jimmy’s apartment and start living his own life.
She is the best friend of Alison Porter and a member of the upper class, but she still adheres to its traditional customs. She needs accommodations because she needs to stay up late with the Porters while performing in a play. However, once Alison leaves him, she ends up sleeping with Jimmy. A “feeling of matriarchal power” is said to be present in her, which “makes most males who encounter her uneasy.” A rigid set of middle-class values forces Helena to part ways with Jimmy in the end.
He is Jimmy’s friend, who welcomed Alison and Jimmy into his flat in the early months of their union. He was Jimmy’s sidekick when they carried out “raids” at posh parties against Alison’s upper-class pals, and Jimmy viewed him as an accomplice in the class war. Then Hugh made the decision to travel to China to write a book, and Jimmy felt deceived. This displays Jimmy’s deeply held traditional beliefs (he was enraged that Hugh deserted his mother, Mrs. Tanner) and his sense of patriotism.
Hugh Tanner’s mom. She assists Jimmy in setting up his sweets stall. Alison believes that the reason Jimmy likes her is simply because she is a lower-class and “ignorant” person. Jimmy finds out that Hugh’s mother had a stroke in the middle of the performance and visits her in the hospital. He invites Alison to go with him in one of his few really vulnerable moments. She declines, and shortly after, she departs from him. Jimmy finds it offensive that Alison seemed to just view Hugh’s mother in terms of her social level and not as a human being. He believes that Alison’s and others’ attitude to Hugh’s mother is a prime example of how society as a whole disregards the humanity of working-class people.
QUESTIONS (Drama; Look back in anger by John Osborne and past questions.)
1. What are the themes in ‘Look back in anger’?
2. Discuss the characters in the play.
3.How are the themes in ‘look back in anger’ relevant to present times?
4. What is the significance of the title ‘Look back in anger’?
5. What are the literary devices used in the play?